I enjoy trying various skin care treatments and giving my opinion on them.
What Exactly Is Microdermabrasion?
Microdermabrasion is a cosmetic skin treatment in which a light, abrasive treatment is applied to the skin to treat issues such as hyperpigmentation, dry skin issues, light marks, or sun spots.
The term “micro” alludes to the small, exfoliating crystals used during the treatment; “derma” refers to your skin; “abrasion” refers to the exfoliation process that takes place during the treatment. Unlike dermabrasion, microdermabrasion is a less invasive skin exfoliating treatment often done in a spa setting that offers patient’s renewed skin via a very low risk, fast, pain-free procedure that will leave your skin feeling just a little more luxurious than before.
I have recently been seeking laser treatments for the removal of acne scarring. After several laser treatments, my skin technician recommended breaking up the laser treatments with a microdermabrasion which is great for exfoliating the surface of the skin and revealing new, softer skin underneath.
Microdermabrasion is great for anyone looking into improving the overall look and feel of their skin or for those who want to treat themselves to a short, affordable trip to the spa. Below, find out what skin conditions are best suited for the treatment, results you can expect, risks to keep in mind, preparing for the treatment, what to expect during the procedure and a review of my own experience with microdermabrasion.
Skin Conditions Best Suited for the Treatment
Microdermabrasion exfoliates the top layer of your skin, removing dead, dry cells, and revealing fresh, new cells below the surface. The procedure stimulates the production of collagen on the top surface of your skin. Typically, as your skin begins to produce new collagen, newer, younger looking skin is revealed.
It is important to keep in mind that since this procedure produces superficial exfoliation of the surface of the skin, it is best suited for the following skin issues:
Early sun damage
Uneven skin tone
Small age spots
Slight skin imperfections
If you are looking for a procedure to help with any of the following conditions, you should not expect to see great results with microdermabrasion; rather, ask your dermatologist about laser, dermabrasion, or other skin treatment options:
- Severe acne
- Deep scarring
- Heavy discoloration or concentrated pigmentation
- Deep wrinkles
- Large age spots or sun spots
Results You Can Expect
You may be asking yourself if you could save yourself the time and money by using an exfoliating scrub to remove dead, dull layers of skin at home. While using exfoliating cleansers and scrubs are great, and often recommended by dermatologists, as a good way to maintain smooth skin at home, investing in a microdermabrasion will get you the results you want faster, and will last longer than at-home cleansing.
Below are just some of the benefits of microdermabrasion:
Better skin tone
Better skin texture
Improved skin color/clarity
Most treatments take as little as 30 minutes to complete so it’s a fast, convenient way to feel rejuvenated and see improvement without having to make a big time commitment.
In addition, the treatment is a “kick off” of sorts to helping your skin produce more collagen. Skin that produces more collagen, will have a fuller complexion, leaving you with renewed skin surface that you will likely find not only soft to the touch, but noticeably brighter when you look into the mirror.
The best part of a microderm? The accompanying facial massage and relaxing atmosphere that many patients are privy to during the treatment. You will leave your appointment feeling refreshed and relaxed!
Risks to Keep in Mind
As with most any procedure, there are always some risks to keep in mind. Microdermabrasion is a much lower-risk treatment than many other skin treatments like dermabrasion or chemical peels so it’s a great option for beginners or those looking for results but not looking for big risk.
Nevertheless, below are a few things to keep in mind as you consider making your next microderm appointment:
- Infection risk if equipment is not properly sterilized
- Skin irritation if the exfoliation is applied too strongly
- Redness or irritation after treatment
In recent years, many retailers have started offering at-home microdermabrasion kits. While these may be low cost and very convenient, be sure to know what you are getting into before purchasing or trying these at home. To minimize any risk and to ensure you are getting the best results possible, look for accredited spas and licensed dermatologists to perform your procedure.
Preparing for the Procedure
The best way to prepare for your appointment is to talk to your dermatologist or skin technician prior to the appointment, ask lots of questions, and inform yourself.
Some questions to ask before your appointment:
- How many treatments will I need?
- What results should I expect after the procedure?
- What side effects can I expect?
- How much will the treatment cost?
- Is there anything I should/shouldn’t apply to my skin before or after treatment?
Some topical treatments and habits to avoid before your appointment include:
- Stop using salicylic acid (found in many over the counter acne creams)
- Avoid smoking which can prevent circulation of blood flow to your skin
- Avoid sun exposure or harsh chemical peels or laser treatments in the weeks before
- Avoid heavy exfoliation before your treatment so as to not overly irritate your skin
During the Procedure
Once you have assessed your skin issues and determined with your dermatologist or skin technologist that the microdermabrasion treatment is right for you, it’s time to prepare for your appointment! You will surely find that this treatment is one of the most relaxing and rejuvenating gifts you can give yourself and your skin.
On the day of your appointment, you will be made comfortable in a quiet room and usually asked to lie down on a table. The technologist may dim the lights and play relaxing music in the background while he or she begins to cleans your skin with an exfoliating cleanser to remove oil, dirt, and makeup. Then, he or she may place a warm, moist towel over your skin to open your pores and wipe the excess cleanser away.
Once your skin is cleansed, you will be asked to wear a small pair of eye protection goggles to protect your eyes from any stray crystals when the microderm treatment begins. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t experience any pain during the treatment so it will not be necessary to apply any numbing cream, which is commonly used in more harsh skin treatments.
The microdermabrasion device usually consists of a small pen with a fine, abrasive, crystalized tip and vacuum suction. You will feel the suction and tip make several passes over your face and neck often going back over the same areas in different directions. Many people liken the sensation of the suction and crystals to fine sandpaper or a cat’s tongue.
After the pen and section is over, you will likely be treated to another round of cleansing, a warm washcloth over your face to sooth your pores, and a facial massage to relax your muscles.
Often, skin can feel sensitive or have a light pink or red color after the treatment so most dermatologists or skin technicians will liberally apply moisturizer and sunscreen.
You should be all finished with your treatment after about 30 minutes!
After your treatment, your skin may be sensitive for the first 24 hours, so it is important to treat it very gently with care. Below are some tips you should ensure you follow after your treatment for the best results possible:
- Keep skin very moisturized.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure and use a sunscreen with high SPF.
- Avoid exfoliating cleansers in the days following so as to not aggravate your skin in case it is still sensitive following treatment.
You should be able to wear makeup and cleanse your skin normally following your treatment. Ask your dermatologist how soon you can follow-up with other skin treatments if you chose to have a microderm as part of a series of laser treatments or in conjunction with treatments for other skin issues.
Why I Chose Microdermabrasion
As I briefly touched on at the beginning of this article, my skin technician recommended microdermabrasion to break up a series of fractional laser treatments I had been receiving to help improve the appearance of acne scars I have had since adolescence. The fractional lasers help stimulate new collagen growth deep in the skin. Along with the skin pen and the microdermabrasion which both help stimulate collagen on the skin’s surface, our hope is that the old marks and scars will fade away and plump back up so their appearance is reduced.
I can happily report that my experience with microdermabrasion was nothing but positive! I experienced only a slight reddish color immediately following treatment. After the next morning, any lingering redness was completely gone. I was able to wear makeup and get back into my normal skin care routine the following day. I also noticed the pores around my nose and forehead were visibly smaller, the texture and feel of my skin to the touch was very soft, and the dark marks took on a lighter appearance.
Have you ever had a microdermabrasion? Did you get the results you were hoping for? What was your experience like? Are you thinking about getting a microderm but have not yet taken the plunge? Tell us about your treatment in the comments, below!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Ryan Gray96 on October 07, 2019:
Great article! Microderm abrasion is a relatively simple and effective skin treatment procedure. I had it done a while ago from Replenish Skin Spa ( https://www.replenishskinspa.com/ ) and the result was amazing. There is no post procedure recovery time and the post procedure care is minimal too.